The purpose of the study was to gather data about the effects of zearalenone (ZEN) in prepubertal gilts. Zearalenone poisoning in gilts was studied by feeding natural contaminated feedstuff as a part of the daily diet. Fourteen crossbred prepubertal gilts, clinically healthy animals were used. They were divided into 2 groups. Seven gilts were fed a diet without mycotoxin and the trial group was fed an experimental diet containing 0.83 mg ZEN for 18 days. The study then focused on clinical symptoms, pathoanatomical and histological alterations. After 12 days ZEN induced hyperestrogenism, which was characterized by vulva reddening and swelling and nipple enlargement but without standing heat.
The control group, however, did not develop any clinical symptoms throughout this study. The reproductive tracts were removed and dissected after euthanasia. The pathoanatomical examination of the trial group showed typical signs of hyperestrogenism, e.g. enlargement of the uterus. Within the control group no pathoanatomical changes were observed. The tissue sections of paraffin embedded samples of ovaries, salpinx, uterus, cervix, vagina, vulva and mammary gland were stained with hemalaun/eosin but also by means of a lectinhistochemical method.
Histological examination showed various lesions in the reproductive organs. Changes in the lectin-binding pattern marked also changes within the experimental group in comparison with the control group. In conclusion the results of the study have shown that the daily intake of 0,83 mg ZEN causes severe clinical symptoms, pathoanatomical and histological changes on the reproductive organs in prepubertal gilts.